In this week’s Blog, Fr. Paddy reminds us of the great blessing of a Mother’s love.

A Mothers’s love is a rich blessing.

Mothers alive and those gone before us hold a sacred place in all our hearts.  I imagine that the longer you enjoy your mother’s love and friendship, the harder it is when the time comes to say goodbye.   Recently, I celebrated the life of a wonderful woman, Margaret Ryan from Fenagh, Co Carlow.

She was a mother of 13 adult children and late wife to her beloved husband Dan.  Mrs Ryan’s life as wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, relative and friend, gave to her family a living experience of God’s generosity, compassion, kindness, solidarity and constant goodness.

Her presence in the wider community was a gentle, unobtrusive and positive reminder that when we do the little things well, we are living in the greatness of God’s kingdom.

Her gentle and affirming spirit was full of appreciation.  She exuded a gratefulness for the gifts of family and loved ones, the seasons, colours – the real beauty of God’s presence shining through the routine and the familiar.

Her final years, though difficult and burdened with poor health, gave further testimony that every moment of life is truly precious and a real gift.  Perhaps it was no accident that her local church in Newtown was so beautifully decorated with the abundant fruits and colours of this year’s rich harvest for the occasion of her requiem Mass.

The display of this year’s harvest within the church spoke louder than words.  It reminded me that there truly is a time to give thanks – a time when all will be well.

Her labour and tremendous endeavour to cultivate and nurture her large family had surely now been achieved.  She had “fought the good fight, she had finished the race, she had kept the faith”.  That morning in church, there was a tangible sense that a kind, loving and faith-filled lady “had come our way on this pilgrim pathway of discovery”. These days, when life can seem testing and indeed unjust for so many, especially those who are most vulnerable, the challenge is “not to lose hope”.  It is a real gift to see beyond grey clouds, to a brighter and more positive space.

We all have an important part to play in the harvest of looking after and caring for one another.  Our greatness is measured, not in our success and our achievements but in how we encourage and support each other.  Real heroes live in our midst, silently giving, encouraging and enabling others to grow and to blossom.   There is a hunger in all of us to experience that sense of being truly fulfilled and satisfied. Often, this hunger and desire can only be temporarily satisfied.

The real gifts in life that mean so much can be found in the depth of all our hearts.   Parents whose lives selflessly and generously give, without counting cost or effort, surely sum up this sentiment.  The life of Margaret Ryan reminded me that true happiness and contentment is alive and available in the midst of the familiar.

May the God who is abundant in light and peace bless the wonderful people who cultivate, nourish, strengthen and support our needs as we grow and blossom through life.